In Dandelion & Quince, author Michelle McKenzie explores the uses of some non-standard herbs, fruits, and vegetables. On the September 30th episode of The Splendid Table, she tells Noelle Carter about her tomatillo-inspired green fish stew and the unexpectedly sweet use she’s found for fig leaves.
Here’s an excerpt from their conversation below. Listen to the full episode here.
Noelle Carter: In your book, you have an incredible chapter on fig leaves. I’m used to eating figs, but who knew you could actually use the leaves? Can you tell me a little bit about them?
NC: Who would have thought of fig leaves and desserts?
NC: I can imagine the fragrance of the cookies with the smoked fig leaves. One of the other ingredients that I’m finding in the markets right now is tomatillos. You have a whole section on tomatillos — using them raw, using them cooked. You also have this incredible recipe for green fish stew. How did you come up with it and what was the inspiration?
MM: When people think of green sauces, they think of a salsa verde or a pesto. Green sauces are also a great way to use up odds and ends of green onion tops and half a bunch of cilantro, and I had these tomatillos. I had made tomatillo jam and measured everything out for that recipe, but I had a few left over. I blanched them and blitzed them up in a blender like I was starting a salsa. Then I took it a step further and thought of a restaurant in San Francisco that has a green fish stew. I thought this sauce, thinned out with a bit of stock that’s been reduced, would be phenomenal with fish. It’s actually one of my favorite recipes in the book.
After the photo shoot, I had friends over and we all shared this massive pot of tomatillo stew with tortillas and a simple salad with radish, and it was wonderful.
NC: It looks so vibrant and colorful. The photos in the book are incredible, and the green fish stew is another one that I can’t wait to go home and try.
MM: It’s my favorite tomatillo recipe, by far.